It wasn’t long before Riku found Sora, curled up in a little ball in the beach-shack, and struck with a certain sadistic sense, he poked the younger boy until he stirred.
“No mum,” He groaned, “I dun wanna go ta big school today.”
“But Sora,” Riku mimicked, “If you don’t go today you’ll have to go in the school holidays, and that’ll make your poor kindi teacher cry.”
Sora’s eyes fluttered open, “What…? Hey, Riku!”
Riku was tackled to the outside sand, and they play-wrestled together, rolling in meaningless circles until Sora shoved Riku away to stand.
“Aww damn, now I got sand in my hair.”
“What do I care, so long as we get home before half the island wakes up, that’s all that matters to me.”
They shared a dinghy home, because they were both still small enough to do that, and because Sora complained about a crick in his neck and not being able to row being still half asleep. Riku may or may not have murmured something at sea about doing all the work and Sora being lucky he wasn’t woken up with a sponge to the face, and in the ensuing argument Riku threatened to rock the boat and swim back to shore by himself.
Riku didn’t, of course, but they weren’t speaking as they dragged the boat ashore and tied it at the dock.
Two months and a Monday later, Riku sat at home at the breakfast table, staring at his half eaten nutella toast while his mother gushed about how tall he’d grown seemingly overnight. There was a stewing urge to snap at her, say something like “gee, I’m surprised you’ve noticed, with all the time you spend home,” but he wanted to go the islands that afternoon to cheer up Sora, so he’d resolved to be nice. Or at least socially acceptable. Long gone were the days where he could just row off to an island for the day and not have his absence questioned by over inquisitive parents.
God, and it was all thanks to stupid Selphie. She just had to look twice at that chalk picture on the staircase, didn’t she? He was totally blissful in his ignorance before she came along but noooooo, she just had to ruin that and ask…
/“Is that picture you’re looking at drawn going downwards, Riku?”
He looked at her without turning his head, then looked back. Well duh. And it wasn’t a picture. It was a message, a secret message that one of the last kids to use the island had written on the wall - instead of in the Secret Place, which was where their gang wrote all of their Cool People Were Here stuff - and Riku had thus been in the process of interpreting for the last few weeks, on and off. (It’d even been what he’d looking at when he first met Kairi, but for some reason, he sometimes felt as if he’d leave the most sacred musing in the world without a second glance, for her.)
The picture was drawn on four steps, that had a scribble, an eye, a heart and a sheep respectively. Riku hadn’t gotten it at first, but after a moment or two of looking he caught: Fuzz, I love sheep.
Selphie was noticing other things. “The sheep has eyelashes.”
“So?” Riku said.
“Well, it’s a simple drawing, they must be there for a reason.” She reached out to touch the three markings with her forefingers. “Do you know what eyelashes are usually meant to represent in cartoons like this one, Riku?”
“No,” he drawled, quietly adding, “and I don’t particularly want to.”
Selphie either didn’t hear him or pretended otherwise: “They represent girls— I remember Kairi showing me the difference the other day when I was watching one of her animes and mistook
k one of the characters for a guy.”
“Lovely, great, it’s a female sheep now, is it? Fascinating, just fascinating, that is, I can see it makes all the difference in the world.”
“And if you’d let me finish, a female sheep is called an Ewe, pronounced You. So the message all well could be ‘Fuzz, I love you’.”
Riku glared at Selphie. Not because he was angry at her, but because she’d spoiled it for him before he could for himself.
She continued spoiling it for him. “In that case, Fuzz wouldn’t necessarily have to be called Fuzz to make sense: it could just be a scribbled out picture, or maybe a thing, or a name. It looks a lot like a Cloud, don’t you think? Maybe Kumo* then or…”
Riku snorted. “You’re such a romanticist, Selphie.” He stood up, “Look, just forget about the whole thing, alright? It doesn’t matter, just some dumb drawing someone probably did when they were bored that’s being looked into too much. I’m gonna go see what Wakka and Tidus are doing.”
“Okay,” she agreed, then, “You know, one of Sora’s brothers’ name is Cloud. It could be written from one of his friends, from when they still-“
Riku turned away. “I said forget it, Selphie.”/
But she didn’t forget, did she. Riku’s hand tightened on his spoon. She just had to go blab about the chalk drawing to Sora, who, of course, derailed at any mention of Cloud, and, by extension, his half-brother Roxas. And then Sora’s parents caught on from that, and somehow surmised that Sora’s upset state was Riku’s fault: they loudly explained their opinions to Riku’s parents, and Riku’s parents fought with Sora’s parents, and Riku’s parents decided that Sora’s family were bad business and Riku’d have nothing more to do with him.
Which wasn’t a good thing, since Riku still liked Sora, and didn’t want to see him sad, though he’d never admit it aloud.
Stupid Stupid Selphie, he should’ve left the moment he moment he saw her enter the room.
Standing up from the breakfast table, Riku shouldered his schoolbag and waved a goodbye to his mum. He wouldn’t skip school today, no matter how much he wanted to curl up in a little ball in his dark Secret Place and cry angry tears. He’d go to school for Sora, and Sora would appreciate his effort and Riku would buy him a chocolate bar and they’d both be friends again. Screw Selphie. And Kairi. And the whole world, for that matter.
The first raindrops of a downpour began to fall on the path in front of him, and Riku squeezed his eyes shut as he walked to school.
To Be Continued